The Silver City
Nicknamed the Silver City, many of Aberdeen’s buildings are made of hard-edged grey granite that’s flecked with mica that gleams in the sunshine. Scotland’s third city was once a popular seaside resort, and the long sweep of golden sand that stretches from the Dee to the Don is still well-used despite the water temperature. Aberdeen’s foundations as a royal burgh go back to the early 12th century, and its university is Britain’s fifth-oldest. During the Middle Ages, it was one of Scotland’s most important seaports, trading with the biggest European ports. Until the second half of the 20th century, Aberdeen was home to Scotland’s biggest fishing fleet.
The decline of the fishing industry coincided with the discovery of huge reserves of oil beneath the North Sea in the mid-1970s – a discovery that changed the city beyond all recognition. Union Street, lined with imposing granite buildings, is the main artery. Shopping centres, museums and galleries cluster at its eastern end, near the striking Marischal College. King Street links the city centre with Old Aberdeen about a mile north of the harbour. This part of town is dominated by the distinctive towers of St Machar’s Cathedral and the buildings of King’s College.